Lost Art Press Woodworking Haiku Contest

Come on... all the cool kids are doing it.

Chris Schwarz is running a woodworking haiku contest on the Lost Art Press blog. If you win, you win a super-tuned #4 smoothing plane, as perfected by Chris himself.

For the less literary among us, a haiku is a short form of poetry from Japan.  It utilizes 17 syllables, arranged in a 5 7 5 pattern. They are easy, and quite quick to write. Do not be afraid. Enter! The deadline is November 22 at noon.

My own entry:

Sawplate sharp and set
Teeth cut swiftly through the pine
Blast! Its still too short!

Bench dogs are helpful...

But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get this bench cat to perform any useful workholding task...

This little guy showed up at my house the other day.  Very young, very skinny, no fleas thankfully. Asked the neighbors and nobody claimed him.  I'd keep him but my cat Charlie won't have any of that.

Too bad, this little guy loves hanging out in my shop.  Its unheated, or I'd just let him live in there.  Oh well, somebody will take him and give him a good home. I hope they like being followed around and being distracted by the loudest purring cat in the history of the world.


So you want to learn how to use a sash fillister?

This question came up recently on one of the woodworking forums I frequent.  I took a few photos demonstrating why you need a sash fillister for sash work.  It doesn't see much work outside of that specialty, but it can come in handy for moldings.

The glazing rabbet

The molding (ovolo in this case)
Sash requires a glazing rabbet and a molding profile.  The molding goes on the inside of the window, the part that faces the interior of the house.  The rabbet is cut on the outside, so that the "ugly" putty and visual heaviness of the square edges goes outside the home.  To achieve a good looking sash, it is important that all the moldings line up perfectly.

A good looking sash joint.
The glazing rabbets are not nearly as aesthetically important, so any potential error (always possible when working with hand planed stock) is thrown to the outside. The only practical way to achieve this is to only work from one face. Because of the importance of the molding, the reference face is always the inside face.  All layout and joinery must be done from this side.

The sash fillister references the front face to cut the glazing rabbet
 To cut the glazing rabbet, therefore, you need a sash fillister. This plane references the inside face, using the fence, and cuts with the inside left corner of the iron to cut the rabbet. It "leapfrogs" the area into which the molding is cut (rabbets are usually cut before the molding, this is just a demo piece that I had made before).

This is why a moving fillister doesn't work.
 A moving fillister can be used to cut the glazing rabbet, if you reference the "wrong" face and cut against the grain.  As you might guess, the molding plane works best when planing with the grain, so the aesthetically important molding demands that the grain run in a friendly fashion for that cut. If you cut with a moving fillister from the back face, you run the wrong way and you risk tearing out.  Admittedly, this isn't all that important, but it sure is easier work to plane the right way.

So, if you want to make sash by hand, you need a sash fillister.  If you just want to buy a neat old plane, you need a sash fillister.  If you want to power abrade your work into submission and set up your dado stack to cut your glazing rabbet, you probably don't need a sash fillister.

Outtake... hilarious photo


I just had to share this picture.  I'm building a special project for Popular Woodworking Magazine. Of course, part of the process of building and writing the article is shooting pictures while working.   I swear, in real life, I'm not a giant...

My lovely wife April is the photographer for this build and she was shooting some photos of me while cutting a rabbet for the back boards of my piece.  I don't know if its the angle, or the lighting, but I look like a giant hunched over my bench.  I'm 6'5", my bench is 34" to the top but it looks like a step stool!

Anyway, this is the first project I've been working on in my new shop. It's mostly done, just need a door or two and some paint on the outside. It's a joy to work in a timber frame shop!


Stop asking 'what if" and just try it!


The Internet, of course, is a wonderful tool, especially for a group as historically isolated as hand-tool furniture makers.  In the old days, apprentices were expected to keep the secrets of the craft. In the more recent past, we've been the weird guys. We talk about citric acid rust removal for a molding plane iron rather than just buying a new router bit. We're the ones who would actually try to resharpen our own handsaws instead of just running down to the Borg for a new table saw blade. We like it when our projects actually look like they were made by a human, rather than having robot-like machined surfaces. An online community that reinforces that its ok to be beyond the Norm is a fantastic thing. But, as in all things, there is a dark side.

We also read far too many things that aren't particularly helpful.  We see commentary about how flat your sole must be to make your plane work, despite many craftsman who don't worry about such trivialities. We hear that you can't cut dovetails without a razor-thin side bevel on your chisel, and to hell with Job Townsend.  If you wouldn't ask a forum poster what size shirt you should wear, why would you ask them how high your workbench should be? Waterstones! No, diamond stones! No, oil stones!, No, Scary Sharp!

The echo chamber of internet woodworking forums is strong. Truths and non-truths reverberate with equal frequency and, unfortunately, the same validity.  Escape! Think for yourself! Try things! Think about things! Make mistakes!  Make discoveries!

If you want to be helpful, don't simply quote what Nicholson said, or Roubo, or Hayward, or Moxon, or Klausz. Anyone can read their words for themselves and adapt it to their work.  What you can't get is the hands on experience of individual craftsman, unless those experienced people actually share their knowledge through posts.  If you don't have experience with something, don't wait for someone else to figure it out for you. Try it! Write it up! Share! Advance the craft!

I have more respect for the man who tries, fails and shares that failure than the man who tries nothing yet knows all...

In the spirit of the American election season remember this; the average person will start to believe almost anything if they've been exposed to it at least seven times (I know this firsthand; I used to be a professional campaign manager).  Now think about how many times you've heard how you must have those razor sharp bevels on a dovetail-chopping chisel. Have you actually tried to chop the waste with a firmer? I bet you'll find that you can do fine if you just tried it... and that's the point.